Speak, Even if You Don’t Get Paid

Public speaking is perhaps one of the best marketing methods that writers have available to them. Not only does it open you up to new and excited readers, but you can sell your published books and talk about upcoming ones. You also have a chance to show your dedication to your genre or topic, regardless of whether your book is fiction or non-fiction. At the same time, many writers turn down public speaking opportunities for one reason: money.


Some organizations that ask you to speak will be able to pay or reimburse your travel funds, but many of them don’t have the funding for this. In fact, most new writers will only get unpaid speaking opportunities, and most of these writers will turn them down. But, is that really such a good idea? Here are a few reasons why you should speak, even if you don’t get paid.


Lead to Paid Gigs


Many of the paid speaking opportunities are more prestigious than unpaid ones. You often need to prove your worth and show people that you really do know what you’re talking about. Just publishing a book, even a popular one, may not be enough to qualify you for a paid speaking opportunity. Not only that, but some people hearing you speak might represent another organization, or they may at some time work for another organization that would love to pay you for your voice.


This is a little stab in the dark, but unpaid gigs often lead to paid ones. Unpaid gigs might also lead to jobs, consultation gigs or other paid opportunities.


The Value of Publicity


Don’t expect the press to be jumping over themselves to take pictures and quotes, but don’t be surprised if someone from a local or national newspaper is in the crowd, listening to you and quickly jotting down notes. You can usually sell books at the event, but a good press release can be worth its weight in gold.


This will spread your book to a wider audience, and it will show how passionate you are about your writing. Sometimes the most money you’ll make is simply from publicity alone.


Learn From Readers


Going to a live event allows you to learn from your demographic. You’ll be able to talk to readers and see what they think about your book. Maybe they didn’t like what one character did, or perhaps they want you to expand on a certain topic. This might help you see what readers really want, which can improve your sales.


While you shouldn’t be willing to change everything about your vision or style if one person doesn’t like it, you should be willing to hear what your readers or potential readers have to say. Many of the best writers know the value of listening to one’s demographic.


Connect and Expand


People are more prone to trust, like and buy from people they know. Readers can only get to know you so well from interviews, pictures and your books. Going to a speaking event allows people to see you face to face, which creates an amazing effect. Not only will people connect to you much more because they can actually see and talk to you, but they will become more willing to follow you as a writer and buy other books that you publish.


It’s impossible to make it as a writer without marketing and expanding your reach. Unpaid public speaking events give you the best shot at really connecting to people and showing what you know about your topic or genre.


Feel Good


This may not be as marketable or profitable as the other reasons, but connecting to readers and seeing how you’ve touched other people just feels good. It can be difficult to know what your books do when you’re just sitting behind a computer and typing. Many writers, especially new ones, need this motivation to continue writing and doing what they do best.




If you publish a popular, unique or interesting book, then there’s a good chance that you’ll be asked to become a public speaker at an event. While unpaid gigs may not seem great initially, you can make a massive amount of money from the publicity and the ability to connect to readers. Not only that, but you might gain some more motivation and respect for your craft.

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